Faith, for the Creatives

My experience in the Created to Thrive mentoring program

Nobody buys art because they need it. They buy it because of connection.

Matt Tommey of created to thrive mentoring

That is the basis of Matt Tommey’s marketing approach which I’ve been learning and applying since I joined the Created to Thrive mentoring program last September.

Created to Thrive mentoring program binder

Now this sounds like a sales pitch, so let’s back up. I am not an affiliate, nor offered anything, by telling you about this program. This post is for the curious, those who are wondering what I’ve stepped into and where I’m growing.

So how’d I get roped into Created to Thrive?

I already knew and learned so much from Matt Tommey’s work. This wasn’t some salespitch from a stranger. I’d been part of his Facebook group for years. I’d heard him speak at conferences. I recommended a couple of his books back in 2016. I took his free Artist’s Rise Up online class. I’d learned and grown as an artist countless times from his work.

There were a couple type of connections I was looking for last year:

  • More connections with artists that are further along in their business than me.
  • More connections with artists who are Christians working in the general marketplace.

This mentoring program offered an opportunity for community in both of those areas.


There’s lots of training out in the world to help me grow as a Christian artist.

There’s lots of training out in the world to help me grow in my artistic skill.

There’s lots of training out in the world to grow my business and marketing skills.

A short weekend training in any of those categories is normally what… a few hundred dollars at best, easily up to a thousand dollars…right?

Enter, the best deal ever.

All of those categories, wrapped into a yearly mentorship program, from a trusted professional I already glean from, for a price I’d normally pay for much less training.

What I’ve gleaned from the mentoring program so far.

Since I joined Created to Thrive, I’ve:

  • worked on better telling my creative story
  • revamped my website with SEO
  • found direction in growing as a Christian artist even though I’m not writing Christian books

And that’s just scratching the surface of the program. There are also opportunities for live Q&A, mastermind groups with other artists, and so much more. The program offers five modules full of training – cultivating your heart & mind, your art, your brand, your business, and your life – to remind me I’m a full person that needs some semblance of balance 😛

It came along when I didn’t expect it.

I say I was looking for training opportunities and for connection. But I should clarify, that was more passive waiting and praying for those opportunities to show up. I didn’t have a specific idea of how to get to there from where I was.

So if this blogpost just blindsided you with a new shiny idea you didn’t know you were looking for, don’t discard it right away.

If you’re looking for Christian artist community and training:

Look into the Created to Thrive mentoring program. Sign up for the free Artist’s Rise Up online class he is offering right now (the same one that got me hooked hehe). Try it out. Ask me questions. Count the cost of doing it, but also count the cost of not doing it.

This program offered all that I was looking for, which I’d originally thought would only be answered by about 20 new things on my plate. Instead I got 1 thing, a program that has so much training I can’t keep up, with growth opportunities for years to come.


Okay, now I’m curious: What training do you recommend for growing as an artist? How has it helped you along the way?

Interested in the Created to Thrive mentoring? Sound like a fit for you? Ask questions below, and maybe I’ll see ya in the group soon 🙂

for the Creatives

How I became a bookworm, an author, and generally obsessed with creative fashion

The start of struggling to read…

Last year I wrote about how my love of reading almost died as a kid. There was a time you probably would have thought I’d never become an avid bookworm. I couldn’t make the jump from short kid books to chapter books. Until I did.

The start of ignoring any sense of fashion…

Similarly, there was a time you wouldn’t have pegged me as an artistic fashion enthusiast. I would have told you I didn’t care about what I wore or how I looked. A clashing and frumpy and bland wardrobe. But let’s not relive those days. Moving onto later, now, when I actually have my own unique outlandish style.

The start of pushing down my writing interests…

Author of quirky, imaginative fiction. You may not have guessed that either. Sure, I wrote on the side all through childhood. Loved it. But for a good while I was adamant that I wouldn’t be an author, didn’t want to be. Instead, I wanted to study fiction, get my English Lit degree, not an English Writing degree. Until one day.


Looking back, my life started out in all these areas as things I outwardly said I didn’t want, didn’t care about, wasn’t interested in. While inwardly, I think a lot of it was actually doubt that I could do it up to my own or anyone else’s standards. So I gave up.

The turnaround…

The common strand in these stories is other people supporting me. My mom finding small books I’d be interested in. Friends to shop with that didn’t mind my outlandish creative fashion interests. Writers who saw the value of my stories and wanted more.

I learned that I didn’t have to live up to these hypothetical “other people’s standards” I was imagining. I hadn’t known there was another option. That I could carve out my own, and that I would find there were others in my corner who value the same stories, the same style, that I treasure.

And there wasn’t a timeline on it. Just an opportunity. I realized, if I really wanted it, I could do it. I could put the work in to create what I hoped for.

And now…

  • I like big books. I cannot lie 😛
  • I’m a published author of introspective psychological stories, studying my craft and coaching others wherever they’re at in the process.
  • I wear artistic fashion that brightens my day and those around me. It’s not what everyone else wears, but it’s unique and creative and interesting, and it’s me.
for the Creatives

4 steps to the creative process

  1. It starts with an idea. A spark. Inspiration. Like attending a creative arts conference or a lego art exhibit. That was my summer. 

  2. Then it’s about building in the routine. Not daily necessarily, just consistently. This year, I have a friend building her writing routine alongside me, you might remember her from the prior blogpost: Jenn. 

  3. And always, it’s about growth. Learning from those ahead of you. I want to use the gifts I’ve been given well – I don’t want to take the responsibility and the trust lightly. I always want to tell the best story I can and get it in front of those who will truly connect with it. 

    That’s why this year I’m investing in the Created to Thrive mentoring program of Matt Tommey’s. I’ll be studying and improving every week, and hopefully you’ll get to see it. 

And amidst all that, and amidst “regular life” stuff of chores and errands and dayjob and family and friends…there’s the 4th step: rest. When I really get going, that’s the piece that I can let go too easily. 

9 months. No, I don’t mean to birth a baby or a book. 9 months to recover from birthing a book. On October 23, “I Know You Like a Murder” will be 1 years old. A couple months of post-publication work, then the beginning of this year I was burnt out. I had no bookish goals for the year because I didn’t want to push myself again.

But I can now say it takes 9 months to bounce back and try to spend every waking moment working on writers life again. This time, I’m trying to build in rest better. Friends are helping me gauge when I’m slacking and when I’m resting. Next time I proceed more carefully, find rest throughout the process, and bounce back quicker.

What’s your best tip to building rest into your hectic life? Comment below and teach me your secrets. And which step of the creative process are you working on? 

for the Creatives

Find your own Jenn

Creators and Dreamers: 
Get you a friend as committed as you are. I say that lightly, but sincerely I know that’s not an easy thing to come by. But let me tell you: If you do, you become catalysts for each other.

Meet Jenn. I mean, she’s not here, but she’s usually in my living room about once a month as we frantically type away the day, mostly only stopping for a chitchat at lunch.

And now, she’s waking up early to get an hour of writing in before work every. single. workday. Y’all, she one-upped me!

But that’s okay, because I need someone to one-up me right now. I need that reminder of the hunger. Not that I lost it, just that it’s been laying low for a bit.

This month, I’m going to join Jenn some mornings, and we are gonna get things done. By the end of this month, I’ll have a routine more solidified and probably a selfie to share with you, so brace yourself. But until then…

Find your own Jenn. Someone with a similar goal and a similar drive. Whatever commitment level you’re at, get someone right there with you, and keep each other going. It’s powerful. 

It’s not easy to find a Jenn, so if you have one, treasure that! And, maybe tell me about your Jenn in the comments 🙂

for the Creatives

On taking creative risks

The end of last year I heard 3 sermons in a row, and from different speakers, about God rewarding risk (referencing the parable of the talents). It seemed like apt timing with me taking a risk and publishing a quirky meta short story. Niche in every sense. And nearly a year later, I regret nothing. I might have chosen different marketing avenues, but that’s about it.

More recently I’ve heard a teaching about God rewarding risk, from Alex Marestaing referencing when Jonathan said “Let’s go to the camp of those foreigners. Maybe the Lord will use us to defeat them” (1 Samuel 14:6, ESV). Key word “maybe.” Jonathan didn’t know. He took a risk.

One artist trope is that we have to quit our dayjob to build a successful artist career. That’s the only way we have adequate time to get our business off the ground…right? A few weeks ago I was reading “Originals” (affiliate link) about how nonconformists move the world, and studies actually show that businesses tend to be more successful when the entrepreneur kept their dayjob for awhile. (Read the book for exact details and figures and such.) Because the pressure was off, they could take the time to build something solid. Adam Grant, author of Originals, talked about how instead of taking a risk in every area of life, taking one great risk (like launching an artistic career) while playing it extra cautious in other areas to balance it all out. One great calculated risk.

Back to Alex Marestaing’s teaching. (I know, I’m all over the place, you love it 😛 ). I don’t remember the words he used, but he talked about how Jonathan didn’t know the outcome, but he knew God’s character, so it was a calculated risk.

Calculated risk. I like that. Because taking a risk sounds brave and daring and adventurous, but this little homebody wants to think through all the minute details and move ahead with caution. I like hearing that I can have both. But it still comes back to taking a risk. Artists still gotta jump at some point – or, more like at multiple points – in building their creative life.

This whole “risk” message coming back into my life right now, I’ll be honest, I don’t have a big booklaunch or a big anything in my plans. So what does the “big risk” messaging mean this time? I don’t know. But I’m making myself ready for when it shows itself.

Tell me: Are you more on the calculated side, or more of the risk taker? Which do you tend toward and which do you need to grow in today? Stepping out in risk, or taking a moment to calculate?

for the Creatives

The one thing that makes or breaks my marketing

Almost a year of selling “I Know You Like a Murder”. I’m no marketing expert by any means. But I googled and read books & articles and experimented. And thought I’d share the results so you can learn from them.

In my last post for patrons I gave my most successful marketing tactic. But there’s another strategy that makes those tactics possible in the first place, a strategy that I first learned from Ksenia Anske.

But first, let me tell you what marketing I tried, and I’ll also speculate as to why it helped or didn’t (although I could be off in my guesses):

  • Facebook/Twitter ads: I think for these to be successful, you have to actually know how to use them. Take a class or something. I tried a bit of money in both without learning how to use them first, so I got 0 sales.
  • Blog Tour: I hired a recommended successful blog tour company. Got hundreds of posts from book bloggers across the web. And got few sales. I think because my book was too niche, and it may have been more successful if it was a more widely read genre.
  • Book reviewers: I love book reviewers. Their service to the book community – readers and authors alike – is so appreciated and so valued. I sent books out (upon request, don’t just send them haphazardly) and received positive & negative reviews. Both positive and negative reviews are so important, because honest reviews are important. While I did not see tangible results, reviews in general are a book’s lifeline, so indirectly I am sure these pushed interested readers into buying readers (and let’s be honest, into non-buying readers if the book wasn’t for them, that’s important too. No one wants to waste time reading a book that isn’t for them.)
  • Book booths at area events: This has been one of my more successful, when I’m at the right place with the right people.
  • Preorders: Lots of posts about launch and lots of hype about finally publishing. This was very successful for a first-time author learning the ropes.
  • Book launch party: This was my most successful event so far. I sold in one day the same I’d sold through the entire preorder season.

But these aren’t strategies. These are just tools.

Can you spot the difference? What’s the difference between the items in that list that made the first half less successful than the last half?

You. Readers. Fans. Fans of my writing, or even just fans of my existence (I think they’d rather be called friends, but ya know…)

The book launch party was a success because of you. The crime scene tape idea came from one of you. Your fanart inspired and brought about the collectors cards.

Online preorders were a success because of you. Seriously, I calculated and most strangers’ purchases have come from your excitement. So what if the author is excited about their own work, I want to know if somebody else is, right? (I exaggerate, because an author’s excitement also sells btw.) Your attendance, your facebook likes, comments, shares, posts, your purchases – those drove sales more than any work I put in.

Your voice makes a difference to my creative career. So thank you. Thank you for celebrating with me and being with me in this journey.

In your creative pursuits, don’t discount the excitement of those around you. Count it a privilege and an honor, because not every artist gets that. And count it more valuable than anything you can purchase, because you can’t purchase enthusiasm and that’s what sells.

Sure, I learned a lot from studying Lady Gaga’s marketing (become a patron to read more about Lady Gaga marketing). But no matter what, remember it still all starts with you.

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My most successful marketing strategy

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for the Creatives

Not everyone has the time all the time

Saying “I don’t have the time” is most of the time and for most people an excuse, not an actuality. It’s simply a matter of reprioritizing.

But, that is not true for everyone. That is not true all of the time.

You have to be honest with yourself for yourself: Is saying “I don’t have the time” right now an excuse or a legitimate reason? I have to ask myself this question semi-regularly. Only you can decide.

But I’m learning one thing: Time to create is a privilege. When I have it, I try to honor it. I try to proceed with grace and gratitude for the moments and space that I have. I don’t always succeed.

And there are legitimate times where we don’t have the time and the space to create. I try to honor that too. To not guilt-trip or push. I don’t always succeed.

I try to be honest with where I’m at each moment. I don’t always succeed. It’s a process. It’s this attempt at that elusive thing called “balance”. And it’s okay to not get it right all the time. At least, so I remind myself. And today is a day that I wanted to remind myself, and I thought maybe I’d remind you too while I’m at it.

for the Creatives

An artist’s call to serve

Last month I wrote a blogpost about what artists have a responsibility to in their art. The trend right now is generally toward the artist’s role in the social justice movement or to using their platform to speak out.

Which is important. But a coworker reminded me that another big part of an artist’s calling is the call to serve. I think of the work of an artist throughout history, of commissions and patronage, of crafting for practical purposes and for communal areas.

Sometimes I see serving and chores synonymously, which is of course a piece of serving. But it’s important to remember the work of service in the artistic field too.

A quick note on valuing your work:

I think there’s a bit of a backlash to that thought sometimes, swinging too far the other direction trying to avoid the “starving artist” mentality and trying to remember our own worth as an artist. But it’s not one or the other: it’s both.

It certainly isn’t becoming a doormat and saying “yes” to every request for free labor that gets thrown your way. And it certainly isn’t throwing out halfhearted work without considering how it’s meeting the needs of the fanbase and how to give back to your community and to the artistic community.

I’m still learning to grasp both concepts tightly instead of leaning on one over the other. Placing value on the work of an artist while also finding ways to serve. That can include both volunteering free labor and also doing the work you’re paid to do with excellence.

Steps to take towards serving through your art:

  1. How are we serving our customers, our communities, our family/friends, and other artists?
  2. What value do we provide?
  3. How do we go above and beyond to care for them?
  4. Where do we sacrifice pieces of ourselves through our craft?

Some of it will be practical chore-like service: preparing a snack for a writers gathering or cleaning up after a paint night or organizing a conference.

Some of it will be serving through art: posting a timely word of encouragement, volunteering to proofread a cousin’s college application, or spending that extra time on worldbuilding for your novel to better entertain the readers who catch tiny details.

Serving comes in many forms, but overflows from a heart set on others. I’m spending time reflecting on that, how I’m currently serving others through art, and how I can continue to serve.

Tell me: In what ways have you seen artists (yourself or others) serving?

for the Creatives

Bloggers to add to your list

My friend was looking to expand her bloggerly reading list and asked who I follow. And I thought this was worth sharing with you all, too.

Honestly sometimes I feel like life has veered more toward Twitter threads and email newsletters…? Anyone else? It’s great to remind myself that my favorite online space, the bloggerly world, is still out there and still valued.

So here are some I’m reading. They’re all currently blogging, and though this list features a variety of styles with differing artistic outlets, it’s all beautiful.

When I’m not blogging, here’s some favorites I’m reading:

Abby Norman: abbynorman.net

Hannah Brencher: hannah-brencher.squarespace.com/diary
(and while you’re at it, be sure to sign up for her Monday Morning email club to start your week off right)

Juni’s Journal: junisjournal.wordpress.com

Jami Fowler: jamifowler.wordpress.com

Tara Sparling: tarasparlingwrites.com

iwannabealady: iwannabealady.com

NicoleSundays: nicolesundays.wordpress.com

And writerly-specific ones:

Kristen Lamb: authorkristenlamb.com

Blonde Write More: blondewritemore.com

Any others to add?

Comment below some of your favorite bloggers to expand the list even more.